Kita Hokkaido - Best 8 (en route)
With the taikai wide open as it is, teams remaining know they have a chance to head to Koushien.
Bushuukan, no stranger to the stage (though not in the end successful), did enough at the beginning and end to defeat Fukagawa Nishi 4-1. They will be a tough test for Teshio, who finds them in unknown territory having used 2 big innings and holding off a 9th inning rally to defeat Rumoi 8-5.
Engaru got no favors drawing Shirakaba Gakuen right off the bat. 7 runs in the 3rd and 4th innings suddenly found themselves clear. Shirakaba would not go quietly of course, and a 4-run 6th pulled them within 3. They further culled that deficit to 2 after 2 in the 8th. But time would run out as Engaru would win 9-7. While it won't get any easier facing Asahikawadai in the next round, they got a surprising challenge in Kouryou. They were shutout for most of the game, and it wasn't until a 2-run 7th that they cleared the way to the quarterfinals.
In an unfortunate battle between two Kushine regional schools, Kushiro Kougyou beat Kushiro Hokuyou 7-3. They will face an Iwamisawa Higashi squad that shutout Shibetsu Shouun 2-0.
The final 2 games of the round of 16 will be played today.
Minami Hokkaido - Best 4 (en route)
Unlike Kita Hokkaido, there was no drama at all in the first round of the prefectuals. Urakawa, Eniwa Minami, Otaru Chouryou, Sapporo Dai-ichi, Sapporo Dai-ichi and Komadai Tomakomai all advanced. The one surprise was Hakodatedai Yuuto who certainly was facing a tried and tested team in Toukai Dai-yon, was mercy ruled 7-0!
We had 2 of the quarterfinals yesterday, and the bye almost helped Sapporo Sousei. Leading for most of the game, ace Hirose just needed 3 more outs to send his team past Urakawa to the semifinals. By the time he recorded those 3 outs though, Urakawa had plated 4 runs and his team found the tables reversed. They couldn't come back, falling 6-4.
Otaru Chouryou continues to defy the odds. After defeating Hokushou back in the prefecturals, they managed to keep Shiriuchi at arms length in the latter innings to win 9-4. The run perhaps looked to be at a close after they gave up 5 in the first 2 innings. But they rallied back with 5 unanswered in the middle innings, and made it stand up for an 8-6 win. Urakawa stands between them and a shot at the title.
Today the heavy hitters step in. Toukai Dai-yon's trip will look familiar now as they must fight through Sapporo Dai-ichi. Meanwhile, Komadai Tomakomai must go toe-to-toe with Sapporo Nichidai for the right to advance.
Aomori - Best 4 (en route)
The top 4 advanced to the Best 8 with mostly no problems. Hachinohe Gakuin Kousei mercy-ruled Aomori Kita 9-0 in 7, Hachinohe Koudai Dai-ichi went just 5 to defeat Hirosaki Jitsugyou. Those that needed a little more help, Aomori Yamada needed 4 pitchers to defeat Mutsu Kougyou 5-1 and Seiai needed a 4-run 7th to defeat Goshogawara 7-3 to setup the following matchups:
- Hachinohe Gakuin Kousei v. Hirosaki Kougyou
- Hirosaki Chuo v. Seiai
- Hachinohe Koudai Dai-ichi v. Aomori
- Goshogawara Shougyou v. Aomori Yamada
Akita - Best 8
The top 4 seeded teams were first up in the round of 16. Oomagari Kougyou and Akita Minami both advanced with double digit wins. Nishime had a tough test against Akita Shougyou but held off a 9th inning rally to win 3-2. Yokote was the first seeded team to fall, falling to unknown Yuri Kougyou 5-1.
Oomagari Kougyou catches a break as Akita's run with close games catches up to them, shutout by Oomagari Nougyou 3-0. Oomagari couldn't make it 3 schools from the city, but can't be blamed for losing 7-1 to Noshiro Shougyou. Nishime better have their A-game ready.
Now here's a surprise - Yuzawa, more know for their onsen, sees their baseball team beat a well-known baseball school in the prefecure in Oodate Houmei 6-1! With a matchup against Yuri Kougyou next, there is a prime opportunity to advance at such a late stage.
Finally, Kakunodate put Noshiro away early in the game ton win 7-3 and will need to get past 2nd seed Akita Minami.
Iwate - Best 8 (en route)
I suppose it would come as no surprise to anyone that Hanamaki Higashi as the top seed has given just 1 run in each of their 3 games so far. They will play 5-8 seed Kuji Higashi, whose only real scare was a 8-5 win over town rival Kuji.
Oofunato had a great story going as a 5-8 seed. 3 years after the earthquake, they reached the round of 16 after rallying twice against Ibonai and then giving up a 2-run lead, to finally advance in 13. Despite the long game, they came back and gave Senshuudai Kitami a challenge despite trailing for most of the game. Sadly they would fall 4-3. They will play a Mizusawa team defeated another disappointing Ichinoseki Gakuin team 2-1.
The other round of 16 games will be played today with Morioka Dai-san and Moriokadai Fuzoku taking the field. Both have shown their opposition no mercy so far.
Yamagata - Best 8
Nichidai Yamagata appears to be back on track, recording a 13-0 win over Kaminoyama Meishinkan. Next up will be Sakata Kouryou who have scored 4 runs in each of their games so far.
Sakata Minami still doesn't seem to be hitting their stride just yet, as it wasn't until a 6-run 8th that they distanced themselves over Kunori Gakuen 11-2. Yamagata Jyouhoku is up next after they rallied with 3 in the bottom of the 9th to defeat Yamagata Shougyou 7-6.
Tsuruoka Minami has played nothing but close games so far, including their 3-2 upset over 2nd seed Yamamoto Gakuen. A well-respected Yamagata Chuo will be on the other side of the field next.
The other, more well-known Tsuroka team, Tsuruoka Higashi has yet to yield a run, and will play Nagai next.
Miyagi - Best 4
The prefecture is probably Rifu's to lose. Tohoku trailed twice against the, but when Rifu put the 3rd run up in the 6th, Tohoku could find no answer and lost 3-2. The feel good story for Kesennuma continues as a 5-run 5th put them clear of Ishinomaki 5-3. However, it is very hard to see them making it past this round.
Tohoku Gakuin's run didn't last long after the upset win over Sendai Ikuei. They couldn't plate a run against Sanuma and will have to wait until next year. Meanwhile, Shiogama's magical run continues. After tying the game at 2 in the 6th versus Izumi Shougyou, it isn't until 7 innings later that they are able to put up 3 runs to win and advance 5-2.